The Spurned Viscountess

Shelley Munro
The Spurned Viscountess
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Publisher
Carina Press
Release Date
September 2010
ISBN
9781426890581
Genre
Historical Romance

SUMMARY
Cursed with the sight and rumors of witchcraft, Rosalind's only chance at an ordinary life is marriage to Lucien, Viscount Hastings. She doesn't expect love, only security and children of her own. Determined to go through with the wedding, she allows nothing she encounters at the gloomy Castle St. Clare to dissuade her.

Recently returned from the Continent, Lucien has no time for the English mouse his family has arranged for him to marry—not when he's plotting to avenge the murder of his beloved Francesca. He has no intention of bedding Rosalind, not even to sire an heir.

Though spurned by her bridegroom, Rosalind turns to him for protection when she is plagued by a series of mysterious accidents and haunted by terrifying visions. Forced to keep Rosalind close—and tempted into passionate kisses—Lucien soon finds himself in grave danger of falling in love with his own wife...

Refreshed version of SECOND SEDUCTION, newly revised by author.

Book Review by CarolAnn
Oct 12, 2010   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
183 people found the following review helpful
Take one gloomy cliff top castle, mix in several mysterious happenings, a band of smugglers and an unsolved murder. Then add a generous helping of romance, top it off with the special gift of ‘sight’ and voila! - Shelley Munroe has created the perfect recipe for an enthralling read.

At Castle St. Clare, Lucien is awaiting the arrival of his betrothed, Rosalind Chandler. Everyone believes he is Viscount Hastings who went missing over three years ago whilst on a trip to Italy but Lucien has only patchy memories of his past and is not convinced that he is Viscount Hastings. However, he has sworn to revenge the murder of his wife Francesca and their unborn child and his enquiries have led him to a shadowy figure called ‘Hawk’ who is known to associate with smugglers in the area.

Lucien has no wish to marry as it will interfere with his quest for revenge but he is being pressured by his father, the Earl of St. Clare, to produce an heir. On meeting Rosalind, he believes that he may be able to dissuade her from marrying him because:

‘She watched anything instead of him. Even now, her entire body shivered with nervous tension. If he made a loud noise, the woman would run, probably screaming, all the way back from whence she’d come.’

He is wrong because Rosalind sees this marriage as her only chance to have a home of her own and a family even if her husband does not love her. Here at Castle St. Clare no one knows of her gift of ‘sight’ and there are no rumours of witchcraft. So despite Lucien’s efforts to discourage her, the wedding takes place.

Rosalind despairs as she is constantly rebuffed by her husband and plagued by a series of mysterious accidents and the feeling that someone is watching her in her bedroom. Lucien believes his wife is making these incidents up in order to gain his attention. However, as time goes on, it becomes apparent that they are not accidents and someone wants both Lucien and Rosalind dead. They must solve the mystery before it is too late!

I found that the story moves at a quick pace with plenty of action and quite a few surprises along the way and the developing romance between Lucien and Rosalind is cleverly interwoven with the action. Lucien’s initial treatment of Rosalind had me really annoyed particularly his constant reference to her as ‘the woman’. I suspect Ms Munroe’s intention was to highlight the detachment Lucien feels with regard to his wife but it did irritate me.

At first, he sees Rosalind as a bland and timid person whom he resents because she is alive and Francesca is dead. In spite of this, he is protective towards her from the beginning insisting she takes a footman with her whenever she goes out. He begins to notice qualities in her which he was previously unaware of and I like the gradual change in his feelings towards her:

‘Her light eyes darkened with an inner fire that underlined the stubbornness of her chin.’
‘The woman was astute as well as persistent.’
‘Lucien bit back a grin, once again wondering why he’d dismissed his wife as a boring brown mouse. She had more determination than most men.’

I also enjoyed seeing Lucien’s gradual sexual awareness of Rosalind:

‘His gaze skittered down her back to the feminine sway of her hips, the flash of a stocking-clad ankle.’
‘Under her cloak, he saw the subtle rise and fall of her breasts. When he realized where he was looking, he stiffened.’

Lucien’s reaction to his growing sexual awareness of Rosalind is realistic because he feels it is a betrayal of his love for Francesca. Although, Ms Munroe does provide Lucien with a good get out clause because, before she died, Francesca had made him promise her that he would find another love.
Lucien makes a rocky start but he certainly redeems himself and deserves the title of hero.

Rosalind is a delightful heroine and certainly not the ‘mouse’ Lucien first perceives her to be. She is feisty, determined, clever and caring. She is determined to uncover the identity of ‘Hawk’ possibly endangering her own life and she has total disregard for Lucien’s threats:

“Keep your pert nose out of my affairs. If you don’t, I’ll lock you in your room and place a guard outside.”

She is certainly feisty:

‘With a loud, unladylike grunt, she yanked the bureau.’
‘With a last surge of energy, Rosalind pulled herself over the lip of the cliff and lay face down on the path, gasping for breath.’

She is very caring and tends the sick people in the village even when malicious rumours are spread that she is a witch. She also shows great concern for her maid, Mary, when she goes missing. She cleverly uses her ability to read people’s minds as a means of gaining information which may lead to ‘Hawk’.

At first, Rosalind sees Lucien as someone who treats her with indifference but gradually she begins to see the man beneath this facade:

‘... she knew her husband to be a caring man, one who worked tirelessly in the village, a man who took the time to play with the village children.’

As they are thrown together by the puzzling events, you see her become more and more attracted to him with the final realisation that she loves him when it might be too late:

‘“I’m married to Lucien. I love him.” The words burst from her without thought, yet the minute she uttered them she knew she spoke the truth. She loved her husband. Now if only she had the chance to tell him. ‘

I love Lucien’s Aunt Augusta, an irascible old lady who finds fault with Rosalind at every opportunity. She provides some of the funniest moments:

‘Lady Augusta stared down her long nose, her gaze imperious. “A walk? I expected you here.” The elderly woman swished her fan through the air in a manner that made Rosalind’s knuckles tingle. “A household this size does not run by itself.” ‘

The unmasking of ‘Hawk’ is quite a surprise but thinking back, the clues had been there but I did not spot them. The motives for Hawk’s actions were a surprise revelation in themselves.

If you are looking for a historical romance with a good helping of mystery, I can recommend this book.
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Book Review by Belinda Boring (author,reviewer)
Dec 31, 2010
170 people found the following review helpful
I'm a sucker for all romance but I have an especially soft spot for those stories where the hero is adamant he doesn't want the woman being forced on him but finds himself tempted beyond his limits as she slowly works her way into his heart. I love the uncertainty, the struggle as passions ignite to the point where it seems almost impossible to deny. One look at the books description told me I'd found such a story and so with an eager smile I began to read and I have to say, I wasn't disappointed.

THE SPURNED VISCOUNTESS is a historical romance that shares the story of Rosalind, a gentle yet tenacious girl who longs for the security and love of a husband. All her life she has been plagued by a curse that has placed her life in constant threat from those who would discover her secret and label her a witch. Honor bound to her family's wishes, Rosalind agrees to marry Viscount Hastings but it doesn't take long before she realizes she's not wanted, that her husband Lucien is tormented by his dead love Francesca and his need to avenge her murder. Not wanting to give up the dreams of a loving husband and mother, Rosalind refuses to be turned away and vows to make the best of the situation, hoping to win over her husband in friendship. Lucien slowly warms to her but there is mystery and danger in the air as Rosalind becomes the target of a malicious stalker, one who is hell bent on harming her. This stalker could be anybody, even the allusive and dangerous Hawk, leader of the band of local smugglers who Lucien is searching for but until the truth is revealed Rosalind must be careful. As she turns to Lucien for help, it brings them closer together and it doesn't take long before the ice around Lucien's heart melts, his opinion towards Rosalind changing. But is it too late for love with danger around every corner, ready to destroy them both? Or by teaming up together, can Lucien and Rosalind find the threat and overcome it? Definitely a good reason to read the book!

Filled with action, mystery and the tension that comes from struggling against the needs of the heart, I had a lot of fun reading this book and had that nice "deep sighing" reaction at the end. It was a light read that was easy enough to follow; proving it's a perfect choice for reading on a cold winter's day snuggled under a blanket. I enjoyed the mystery behind everything although I will admit I was a little worried when I pretty much figured out who the mysterious Hawk was early on in the book. Would the author continue to keep me engrossed or would the book be all downhill now the suspense was over. I'm really happy to announce that even though I knew the "who", I was still shocked by the "why" and how it all unfolded. I loved the attention that the author paid to Rosalind and Lucien with the different scenes she had them together in and the warming of their relationship. Although you go into a romance "kind of" knowing the outcome of the story, it still was amazing to watch the journey both characters went through, the little twists and challenges that came up that helped chip away the barrier between them.

Almost instantly Rosalind was labeled by Lucien as a little English mouse and it didn't take long for me to realize that she was far from it. She had fire and determination which was evident each time she challenged Lucien when he ordered her about. She knew what she wanted and even though at first she tried to act proper, she quickly began to speak freely, something necessary because with all the danger that surrounded her, no one was taking her seriously. She was brave and little too fearless for her own good but she was extremely endearing and I crossed my fingers for her through the whole book, hoping she'd get what her heart desired and come out of the story unscathed.

I couldn't help but like Lucien either. Even though it annoyed me the way that he treated Rosalind in the beginning, I understood it because he was so deeply troubled and emotionally scarred. The last thing he needed was for some "wife" to get in the way of his revenge and his heart was still too deeply connected with his dead wife. He'd also lost most of his memory, something that frustrated him to no end so Rosalind was definitely a distraction he couldn't afford. But I loved the way his mind turned and his heart softened. Lucien wasn't a cruel and cold man - he was strong, sensual, passionate and a man who was at war with himself. I sighed all the way to the giddy end with him as I watched him open up and ask himself whether he'd take that second chance at love.

This was such a great book and one that left me with the feel good feeling I love so much. It kept my attention despite knowing the villain and had my heart hoping for Rosalind and Lucien from the beginning. THE SPURNED VISCOUNTESS is definitely a book I'd recommend and one I'm sure all romance lovers will enjoy. Happy reading!!

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